Elephant Of The Month – Star Of The Nut Herd, Coco!

May 14, 2022 | By Neellohit Banerjee
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Circuses were once a common place to sight elephants. They were made to perform to entertain audiences. However, each elephant was subjected to physical torture and mental trauma while being trained and were kept under dire conditions. Coconut was a victim of these circumstances. In 2015, she was  rescued by Wildlife SOS from a circus in Maharashtra,  along with three other elephants.

Coconut was just 11 years old when she was rescued. She had been separated from her mother to be used as a circus elephant. This trauma was followed by harsh neglect: Her biological needs were not met due to lack of food, and even water. The circus staff made her perform crowd-pleasing tricks, such as lifting people with her trunk. When she wasn’t performing at the circus, she was kept confined in chains and under brutal training by a bullhook. She was finally rescued from this torture  along with Peanut, Walnut and Macadamia (lovingly called the ‘Nut Herd’), and brought to the Elephant Hospital Campus (EHC) in Mathura.

Upon her arrival, Coconut was extremely wary of her surroundings, but she gradually became comfortable after being introduced to elephants Asha and Suzy. In these 7 years with Wildlife SOS, Coconut has grown to be energetic and active, and we are happy to honour her as our Elephant of the Month! Often, she playfully runs around with Peanut always by her side. Peanut is Coconut’s special friend: Whether it is taking dust baths together or making mischief, Peanut loves to do what Coco (as we lovingly call Coconut) is doing. The two go on their daily walks together with their caregiver, which sure helps them release all the energy they have stored up!

Elephant rescue from circus. Circus elephants are kept in horrible conditions.
The Nut Herd was rescued under terrible conditions from a circus in Maharashtra, in 2015. [Photo (c) Wildlife SOS]
Peanut’s companionship has helped Coconut in her healing journey at Wildlife SOS. [Photo (c) Wildlife SOS/Mradul Pathak]

With summer at its peak, the elephants need to cool down, and what better way than going for a dip in the Yamuna river! Once inside the river, it’s a jumbo pool party: From splashing and rolling in the river to blowing water out of their trunks, the fun can last for hours! The duo takes mud baths as well, an activity that provides a natural sunscreen for their skin.

Elephants bathing in the Yamuna river is one way to beat the heat during summers.
Coco and Peanut love taking long dips in the Yamuna river to beat the heat. [Photo (c) Wildlife SOS/Mradul Pathak]

Coco undergoes regular nail-trimming and grooming sessions. The vets conduct this after she has returned from her walk and playtime with Peanut so that her energy levels are more manageable as she is calm. Otherwise, young Coco, just like a little human kid, wouldn’t be able to sit still for too long!

Coco and Peanut share the same enclosure and know how to have fun together!  They  are constantly on a lookout for food that is hidden around by their caregiver. They are both quick to reach any person walking past with waving trunks to ask for treats! And speaking of treats, can there be anything better than crunchy peanuts? Coconut is quick to grab a trunkful and lets out a trumpet to signal her happiness.

Coco would bring out her mischievous side when it comes to grabbing treats from her caregiver. [Photo (c) Wildlife SOS/Mradul Pathak]

Peanut can often be seen playfully chasing Coconut around their spacious field. When Coconut finally takes her peaceful naps, Peanut mischievously takes long dust baths around her, with the dust falling on Coconut! Coconut has mud beds in her enclosure which allows her to rest whenever she would like to. One of Coconut’s favourite enrichments is the pipe-feeder installed in different corners of their free-ranging field. It is filled with peanuts and stalks of sugarcane for her to pick out and munch on. There is also a hanging drum-feeder in their enclosure which is an excellent structural enrichment to allow proper exercise for Coconut’s trunk, neck and back muscles. The drum-feeder is filled with finely chopped pieces of coconut shavings, watermelons and papayas, with holes drilled into the structure.

Coco and Peanut share a truly special bond, and the duo can hardly be spotted apart from each other. [Photo (c) Wildlife SOS/Mradul Pathak]

Our elephant care staff are always alert and take the best possible measures to provide Coconut the dietary and medical care she requires. If you wish for Coconut to continue flourishing under the care of Wildlife SOS, you can consider becoming a monthly donor and support her upkeep.

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